Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout your body. You may already know that this can cause serious complications in your kidneys, heart, and blood vessels, but your doctor may not have told you that lupus can also affect your eyes. Here are three eye conditions that people with lupus need to worry about.
Your cornea is a clear tissue that is in the front of your eye. It covers both your pupil and your iris, and when lupus causes it to become inflamed, the resulting condition is called keratitis. Keratitis is a painful condition; the swelling can also cause problems like blurred vision or the feeling that you have something stuck in your eye.
Your optometrist will give you corticosteroid eye drops to reduce the swelling. This is important because the swelling can damage the cells of the cornea, which can lead to scarring and vision loss. Keratitis as been reported to recur frequently in people with lupus.
The sclera is the visible white portion of your eye, and just like your cornea, it can become inflamed by lupus. The main symptom of scleritis is eye pain, but your eye may also be red. Some people also suffer from blurred vision or floaters.
Scleritis is treated by reducing the inflammation with corticosteroid drops or injections. The underlying cause, lupus, needs to be managed or you may develop scleritis again.
The retina is a tissue in the very back of your eye that senses light and transmits the images you see to your brain. Like the other tissues that make up your eyes, it can be damaged by the inflammation associated with lupus. This damage can make the veins in your retinas leak fluid; this fluid puts pressure on the retina and can lead to vision loss or complete blindness if the leak isn't stopped in time.
Corticosteroid eye drops or injections can be used to reduce the swelling, but if that isn't enough, you may need to have surgery to repair the leaking blood vessels. If you need surgery, your optometrist will use the heat of a laser to seal the leaking vessels.
Lupus can cause a lot of complications throughout your body due to the inflammation it causes, and even your eyes aren't safe. If you have lupus, pay attention to any pain in your eyes or changes in your vision, and if you notice any changes, you need to see your optometrist right away. Visit your local optometrist, such as Beyond Vision in Edmonton, for more information on these eye conditions.